Climate Change

First Nationwide Survey of Climate Change Education

How is climate change being taught in America's public schools? The answers may shock you.

How is climate change being taught in American schools? Is it being taught at all? And how are teachers addressing climate change denial in their classrooms, schools, and school districts?

Climate Change Denial Is Affecting Education

Climate change denial is already threatening the integrity of science education in formal and informal education settings. In the public schools, such threats are primarily due to laws adopted or considered at the level of state government, policies adopted or considered at the level of the local school district, and actions adopted or considered at the level of the individual classroom, where teachers may either deny climate change themselves or encounter pressure from climate change deniers in the community.

Defending climate change education

What can you do to defend climate change education when it is attacked in your local community?

Attacks on climate education are often encountered:

Teaching Climate Change: Best Practices

The prospect of climate change is daunting. Learning about it can be disheartening, even depressing, for students. As a result, even students who learn the basics of climate science may still fail to appreciate that humans can take actions to reduce climate changes and its impacts. To improve and reinforce climate change education, make it local, make it human, make it pervasive, and make it hopeful.

Addressing Doubt and Denial in the Classroom

Illustration by Paula Spence for NCSE, 2012

Because climate change is a matter of social — although not scientific — controversy, it is important to be ready to address climate change doubt and denial in the classroom.

Climate Change Denial Supplementary Materials

Teachers often feel the need to use supplementary materials when covering climate change, particularly because the topic is often left unaddressed in state science standards, curricula, and textbooks. Unfortunately, climate change deniers have developed and are distributing supplementary materials (such as lesson plans and DVDs) that foster confusion about the occurrence, causes, and consequences of climate change.

Why Is It Called Denial?

There is a debate among those involved in social controversies surrounding climate change about how to refer to the positions that reject, and to people who doubt or deny, the scientific community’s consensus on the answers to the central questions of climate change. Many such people prefer to call themselves skeptics and describe their position as climate change skepticism. Their opponents, however, often prefer to call such people climate change deniers and to describe their position as climate change denial.